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Brain, not the heart, lets you to fall in love

Ahead of Valentine’s Day, a new study has claimed that intense romantic feelings actually come from your brain, not from the heart.

Researchers at the State University of New York found that it is the brain, not the heart, which plays a major role in falling in love.

In one small study, the researchers looked at magnetic resonance images of the brains of 10 women and seven men who claimed to be deeply in love.

The length of their relationships ranged from one month to less than two years.

Participants were shown photographs of their beloved, and photos of a similar-looking person.

The brains of the smitten participants reacted to photos of their sweethearts, producing emotional responses in the same parts of the brain normally involved with motivation and reward.

“Intense passionate love uses the same system in the brain that gets activated when a person is addicted to drugs,” said study co-author Arthur Aron, a psychologist at the State University, was quoted as saying by LiveScience.
In other words, you start to crave the person you’re in love with like a drug, the researchers said.

Experts have said that romantic love is one of the most powerful emotions a person can have. Humans’ brains have been wired to choose a mate, and we humans become motivated to win over that mate, sometimes going to extremes to get their attention and affection.

Distraction reduces pain

Distracting yourself from pain can actually help you hurt less, suggest experts.

 In a new study that involved 33 people, participants who were subjected to slight pain on their forearms reported less discomfort when they were asked to perform a distracting mental test as the pain was delivered.

Moreover, when participants were given a placebo “pain relief” cream, and distracted at the same time, their pain was even more reduced.

“Both placebo and distraction are effective mechanisms for reducing pain. You can combine them and you don’t lose anything,” said study researcher Jason Buhle, who conducted the research as part of his doctoral dissertation from Columbia University.

 The work sheds light on how the placebo effect may work, Buhle said.

 Previously, it had been thought that the placebo effect was the result of some — perhaps unconscious — mental effort, but the new results suggest that it relies on a separate mechanism from distraction.

What the researchers found was that the placebo cream and the distracting test both had lessened the participants’ pain, but distraction made for a much more effective pain reliever.

Love hormone helps new mums combat fear

Researchers have found what makes new moms feel less fear in frightening situations.

They revealed how the brain speedily delivers the hormone oxytocin — which new mothers have in elevated levels, starting with childbirth — to where it’s needed, freeing them to protect their young.

In a study done in rats, they found that oxytocin rushes to the brain region governing fear, called the amygdala, courtesy of special cells that act like a neurological expressway.

Further, when the researchers provoked these cells into sending oxytocin to the amygdala, it diminished the rats’ fearful responses to being startled.

The findings “could have implications for autism, anxiety and fear disorders,” Live Science quoted study researcher Ron Stoop, a psychiatric neuroscientist at the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, as saying.

The work may also spur scientists to look more closely at the brain’s activity at moments when oxytocin levels are high, such as during childbirth and lactation, Stoop said.

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